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Terps confident in Will Likely, who steps in for injured cornerback Dexter McDougle

FootballRandy Edsall

The season-ending shoulder injury to Dexter McDougle in Saturday’s 32-21 victory at Connecticut might not be as devastating for the Maryland defense as it is for the senior cornerback

McDougle was considered the group’s top playmaker, as evidenced by his 49-yard interception return for a touchdown that helped the Terps take control of the game in the second half before he got hurt.

Yet McDougle’s injury just sped up the process for freshman cornerback Will Likely. One of the highest rated players in Maryland’s 2013 recruiting class, the 5-7 Likely had made an impact even before the Terps lost both McDougle and Jeremiah Johnson.

Likely had 11 tackles against Old Dominion while running back a kickoff for 43 yards and a punt for 27 yards. Saturday’s game against West Virginia at M&T Bank Stadium is just another step in Likeley’s emergence for Maryland.

Terps coach Randy Edsall seems to have little concern about Likely moving into the starting lineup to replace McDougle, who according to Edsall underwent “extensive” surgery to repair the undisclosed shoulder injury Monday.

“I think if you just listen to what I’ve said about Will, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody that he’s gone in and stepped right in and done the things that we’ve asked him to do on the field,” Edsall said Tuesday. “Since the day that Will got here [in January], he was extremely competitive.

“He was well coached coming out of high school, had good knowledge of the position, had good fundamentals and good technique and all he’s done is gone out and continued to compete, continued to learn the different fundamentals and different techniques that we have. What he’s done is not a surprise to me or the coaching. He plays like he’s a seasoned veteran.”

Edsall knows that Likely won’t play mistake-free, but said “if we have everybody practice the way he practices and the way he competes, we’d be even better. That’s not a knock on anybody else. He really competes at a high level and at a fast past each and every day.”

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